Sweet tooth

I hate Halloween.

I hate having to come up with some stupid costume idea, worrying if it’s too silly or obvious or cryptic. Even when I was a kid, selecting a costume always seemed to me like an afterthought, an evil that was necessary to partake in the holiday ritual. My costumes were always easy, half-assed. One year, I bought vampire teeth and fashioned a cape out of a black trash bag; I didn’t even bother to slick back my hair. Another year, I sprayed on some gray-hair paint, dressed up like usual, and declared that I was going as myself, only older. I also once forgot completely to come up with a costume, so I just wore my soccer uniform (luckily, it had been washed, though I suppose a dirty costume would have been more authentic):


The last time I dressed up (as an adult this time), I went as a missionary, since, like many other American male adults, I already own a white short-sleeve button-up shirt, a tie, and a backpack. That was years ago. I hope it’s the last costume I’ll ever wear, but I suspect it won’t be.

But I didn’t always hate Halloween—because, while Halloween costumes were and are (and will always be) a total bummer, candy was and is (and will always be) anything but.

As a kid, though, I was given such a frustratingly limited access to candy. And not having a job or much of an allowance made life really difficult (50 cents a week didn’t buy much, even back in the late 70s). Because I had a fucking problem, man. Such a problem that my dad once took me for a blood test, thinking I had some kind of blood-sugar imbalance (I tested “normal,” though I was hoping my blood-test results would confirm a diagnosis more to my liking: Yes indeed, sir, your son does need all that candy. Prescription? Stop by 7-11 on the way home, buy him whatever he needs.) Oh, I also once found an old Christmas decoration my stepmother had been saving for 15 years, a decoration constructed out of wrapped candy. I ate the whole thing in an afternoon, not knowing (or caring) how old it was, or that it was some sort of family heirloom. I caught hell for that.

Anyway, yeah, I was a total addict (but what kid isn’t, really?), which meant that Halloween was the only time I got a complete, Grade-A fix, which also meant that I waited and waited and waited… no, it was more than that—I pined for Halloween.

Or, I should say, I pined for what Halloween would provide for me—a few days of candy-fueled bliss. I pined for what would happen after all of that nonsense with the costumes, when the night’s bounty was fully collected, lugged home, and finally dumped from the pillowcase onto the basement floor. That’s when the real fun began, as Paul, Mike and I would begin the negotiations. I immediately traded away anything chocolate (Snickers, Milky Way, etc.) or fake-chocolate (Tootsie Rolls), unless it had coconut (Almond Joy, Mounds), for anything with actual (read: artificial) color, like…

candy corn…

candy corn

and gummi bears…

gummi bears

and Necco Wafers…


and Bottlecaps (“The Soda Pop Candy!”)…


Now that I can buy as much candy as I want (and, yes, I often do), Halloween has lost its appeal.

Sad, no?

39 responses to “Sweet tooth”

  1. Scotty says:

    Not sad at all. You didn’t really like Halloween in the first place. This post could just as easily have been a meditation on all that is good in your life – on breaking the shackles preventing you from eating all the Christmas ornaments you want. Yes, you were always Jeremy, but now you are a more realized – more authentic (to borrow your word) Jeremy.

    One of my favorite adult memories: Steph and I were Christmas shopping late one afternoon when we came across a DQ. As a reward for the progress we had made, she suggested getting Blizzards. I balked a little, and said “but aren’t we supposed to have dinner soon.” She exclaimed, “Fuck that! We’re grown-ups; we can do whatever we want!” Doggone, that was some icecreamy goodness. And it was more than the taste of Heath bars, vanilla, and caramel. It was the taste of sweet liberty.

  2. Beth W says:

    Jeremy, we would be great candy eating buddies. I would eat all of your chocolates and happily give you the colorful candies. However, the tootsie rolls would languish.

    You ask, what kid isn’t a candy addict? That would be my brother John. He horded his Halloween candy keeping it for months not eating it and I believe without intending to eat it. I however, ate all of my candy within a few days. So I stole his.

    #1 I love the DQ story. For a few years now I have lived by the maxim that the best thing about being an adult is getting to eat all the candy you want.

  3. LP says:

    #1: for that same reason, I often run my hand along walls and fences when out walking. There’s no one to say, “Don’t! You’ll get your hands dirty!”; it feels good; it’s liberating. Best of all: doing so while eating a Snickers bar. Just before dinner.

  4. Mark says:

    I wonder if the candy companies have done tests to see what sort of people don’t enjoy which colors of candies that they produce. For instance, if it’s orange or yellow, I probably won’t eat it, whether it be Starburst, Gummi Worms, or Jujubes. M & M’s I’ll eat those colors because the only difference in color is the green ones that are clearly superious.

    I wish they’d do the study soon and stop making oranges and yellows. Or do you eat those?
    And I’m with you Jeremy, always keep the coconut. I think we have some Almond Joys stashed somewhere around here.

  5. Dave says:

    I was watching an episode of The Wire yesterday in which Little Kevin (a 300-pound corner boy) is being interrogated while eating peanut M&Ms. He delicately picks out the orange ones and sets them on the table. “I don’t like the orange ones.”

  6. Scotty says:

    LP: I am at my happiest when I can wipe my hands on my pants (or my nose on my sleeve). Make that a frozen Snickers and we’ve got a date.

  7. Mark: I’ve never cared much about what color my candy is. My favorite color is orange, but it’s not like I pick out the orange ones to eat for last. Yes, it was fun for awhile as a kid to eat one color at a time, but I always had a hard time figuring out what color to eat first and last and second and second-to-last.

    My mom would always buy Almond Joys for us at Christmas. She would put them in our stockings to add to the sheer mass of stuff we got, but she knew we’d all just give them back to her because none of us like coconut. And she loves it.

  8. Tim Wager says:

    Okay, I’m surprised to be the first to say it, so it’s the first thing I’ll say: that picture of you in your soccer uniform is kee-yoooot!

    Also, this post was good for some big laughs. A Christmas ornament made from wrapped candy? 15 years old? And you *ate* it? O. Mah. Gawd.

    FWIW, I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween either. The pressure to dress up is just too stressful. Also, when I was a kid, the older kids in my town were all about terrorizing the younger ones with shaving cream and eggs. Never fun.

  9. Jeremy says:

    By the way, it wasn’t a Christmas ornament–it was a Christmas decoration, a miniature tree made out of about 50 wrapped taffy-type candies, and it was kind of big. Ohhh, sugar!

    And with candy, in general, I never separate out colors–I just shove the whole lot in my mouth…

    Last night, I was on the phone with Scotty, and I asked him, “Do I write too many posts about how I hate stuff?” And he responded, “Um, No… but if you ever get to that point, you can just become the Andy Rooney of TGW.”

  10. Ruben Mancillas says:

    So where do you come down on the passing out of Halloween candy?

    Do you reject the practice as part of your general animus towards the holiday or do you identify with the young Jeremys who ring your doorbell in search of their Technicolor sugar fix?

    Let us know before Gordon the Engine, a giraffe, and Tinkerbell show up at your place tonight.

  11. stephanie wells says:

    Ahem, Ruben, come to ours instead. (Jeremy has class anyway.) Come and stay. On second thought, it was in our neighborhood last Halloween that those kids got beat up in the haunted maze, so you might want to take your kids to a different train yard cum zoo cum fairy castle . . . but we’d be thrilled to have ya.

  12. LT says:

    #1: Scotty, you may not know that John (the candy hoarder) and I pretty much fell in love over a few different dates for DQ blizzards. He usually gets peanut-butter cup; I’m an oreo-cookie girl.

    Our friend Jason is the exact opposite of JZ. He loves Halloween, but hates sweet stuff. This morning he came by dressed as some german heavy metal guy., but resisted the skittles on the counter.

    Jeremy, I hope you’re eating all the candy corn you can handle.

  13. Jeremy says:

    I would love to give out candy, but no one comes to Old Man Zitter’s house!

  14. cynthia says:

    Eat all the candy you want. Do you not like holidays in general or just halloween. Candy corn and Almond Joy were my favorites. My mom always made us where theese crazy costumes and then parade us everywhere I always wanted to stay home and just hand out candy or steel most of it

  15. Tim says:

    I like the idea of TGW having its own Andy Rooney. Cutest Curmudgeon ever!

  16. Jen Mandel says:

    Ok, so, I LOVE halloween, but I HATE candy. In fact, I pretty much dislike anything sweet – I know, I’m some sort of martian freak. I’ve never really understood the whole “gotta have candy thing – sorry Jeremy. But sometimes just the smell of sugar gives me a stomache-ache. (yes, sugar has a smell). I used to give away all my halloween candy to my brothers, except, strangely, I loved Three Musketeers. But I had to cut all the chocolate off and just eat the nougat. And pretty much I’d eat just one. But I make a mean Freida Kahlo. So next time I go trick-or-treating, I promise to give y’all all the candy.

  17. autumn says:

    jeremy, tonight is great Halloweeen fun at Chloë + Dougs. Street closed. Kids dressed, chairs on teh front lawn with pizza a drinks for all of us older non-costumed crowd. come if you like and we’ll give you sugar rations.

  18. i always liked halloween as a kid and like it as an adult too. in boston we would take our kids to pandora & mark’s neighborhood, where little old italian ladies would invite you in to chat before they’d dole out the candy. pandora made the best costumes ever.

    here, we’ve always gone trick or treating in tribeca, which is about the only thing i like about tribeca. it’s mostly t-or-ting to businesses and restaurants, but there’s a real street scene, with a premium on costumes made at home by creative kids. my favorites in past years have been the pregnant teenage barbie street gang, led by the celebrity pediatrician’s daughters, and the gooey black creature from the bath house in _spirited away_, which wandered around handing out rolos. tonight my favorites were two kids dressed as dinner tables with their heads on plates and full table settings beside them, square cardboard tables set on their shoulders and tableclothes draped over them. molly went as a goth beauty queen. anna was a cowgirl and went with her friends, without us.

    there’s a lot of pressure on parents to come up with good costumes, too. i went as a rocker, bass slung over shoulder, skinny low rise jeans, ripped shirt, ladies’ sunglasses and a big afro wig. steph was a punk witch with a pink spiky wig. last year i went as clark kent turning into superman, white shirt unbuttoned over a superman shirt, tie over shoulder. i saw six more of the same costume that night. luckily tonight i was the only afroed rocker with a guitar slung. we met LP, dave, E-Tan , and E-Tan’s friend for dinner after.

    E-Tan and I had thought about going as THIS, but couldn’t get it together in time. Next year.

    jeremy — you know i love fruit candies as much as you do. i’ve had to give them up, though. if i have them on hand i will eat them all compulsively, no matter the quantity. and this morning when i read this i thought, “you know — so many of my favorite posts originate in someone simply stating and defending a preference.” i don’t think you’re alone in that formula.

  19. sorry for that comment the size of canada.

  20. Jeremy says:

    btw, BW, i forgot to mention on one of your recent posts that i went to economy candy once, with WW, and it was just spectacular… yumyum.

  21. Miller says:

    Bryan, no way. My ex and I went to a Halloween party a few years back as Hall & Oates (or Holland Oates, if anyone watches It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). I was Oates (the one with the Jheri curl and mustache). My ex is very tall and thin, and I’m extremely short, so we went as Sonny and Cher one year as well, myself as Sonny and he Cher. I’m not really a fan of Halloween, but I apparently love the idea of cross dressing.

    Jeremy, I can totally relate to your candy addiction. I was afraid to buy candy for the trick-or-treaters this year for fear of eating everything before they came. I’ve done okay so far…

  22. Mark says:

    Haha, my kids went as Sonny and Cher this halloween. Of course, at 1 and 3 they had no idea what they were, but it was pretty funny anyway.

    Am I right in assuming that everybody else buys the good stuff for themselves and the giant bags of gross candy to hand out to trick or treaters? Maybe it’s just me.

  23. stephanie wells says:

    No Mark, it’s not just you–Scott mowed through three bags of the good stuff he bought early on (when he brought it home on, like, October 1, I knew there was no way) so I went out and got some Tootsie Pops for tonight to make sure there would be something to hand out that we wouldn’t eat . . . of course I picked out all the vanilla tootsie rolls first to hoard for myself.

  24. mark, you’d better post pictures of that.

    miller — grrr. there’s always someone with the same good idea. at least you live on the other coast.

    swells — some tootsie pops have vanilla rolls inside? how did i never know this?

    i wanna know if other whatsiters dressed up and if so as what. and their kids, where applicable.

  25. Rachel says:

    Yes, and I hope you all got some good photos.

    We hung out at home with all the lights off, playing possum with the T-or-T’ers. Fun!

  26. Jen says:

    I love the idea of dressing your kids up as celebrities that were way before their time! Pictures, please :)

  27. Mark says:

    Ok, pics are posted on my website. Click my name.

  28. Bryan: I was Smurfette, Only my skin looked very much like Mystique. And my hat kept falling off. And my hair looks extremely red with blue skin– so much so that I should have been Sassette, in retrospection.

  29. Trixie Honeycups says:

    i just read your comment about the tribeca t or t.
    when i was about 6, my costume was a dining room table.
    i won first place at the takoma park halloween costume contest that evening, but my most shameful moment of the day was when i showed up at school wearing the costume and couldn’t get through the door to my classroom.
    oh how i longed to be one of the normal kids wearing a store-bought bionic woman costume.

  30. LP says:

    27: Mark, those are the greatest photographs I have ever seen. Really, everyone look, please. The only thing that might possibly compare is a photo of Trixie as a dining room table. Trixie?

  31. Rachel says:

    #29: I had a similar moment of shame when I went to a party as a bag of jellybeans and forgot that the costume meant I couldn’t really sit down. When I did, a bunch of the colored balloons popped and the other kids teased me incessantly with fart jokes. Scarred for life, I am.

  32. Kate the Great says:

    I was a washer one year. A clothes washer. I couldn’t sit down either.

    My little brother did the same thing, only he was a gumball machine. He had a price and a red hat and everything.

  33. He had a price and a red hat and everything.

    I heard that’s how Jeremy worked his way through college.

  34. Jeremy says:

    I sure wasn’t gonna give it away for free!

  35. I can’t believe no one’s commented on this yet:

    The last time I dressed up (as an adult this time), I went as a missionary, since, like many other American male adults, I already own a white short-sleeve button-up shirt, a tie, and a backpack.

  36. Dave says:

    We haven’t commented because we’ve all dressed up as missionaries at some time or other.

  37. but jeremy doing it seems so awfully earnest — that sincere desire to belong to the club. it’s touching.

  38. julie the ping pong queen says:

    I’d like to dedicate this comment to JZ.
    I can’t nobody mention how sweet Jeremy looked in his kid picture. I love the bowl cut!
    My favorite costume was when i dressed as a jazzercize instructor from tampa florida who had moved to a condo in west hollywood to become famous. she was a bitch constantly reaching into her gold chained fanny pack to apply lip gloss and interrupting people to announce how goddamn hot she was. she held a dance contest in which she was the only judge and surprising she won. her proudest moment was tearfully convincing some weird guy that she was the illegitimate child of shirley mcclaine.

  39. Cindy says:

    Wow, there’s a lot of introspection about candy and the rite of passage it provides in the form of freedom towards adulthood here. I have nothing that insightful…. I like the fact that you ate the family heirloom. That’s my kind of holiday.